The Newsroom previews the first round of the 2016 Toyota AFL season.
Sydney Swans v Collingwood Magpies – Saturday 7:25pm
Expect Sydney’s match against the Collingwood Magpies at the Sydney Cricket Ground to be a blockbuster. The Swans, who won two of their three NAB Challenge matches, look set to start the season in solid form despite missing key players Jarryd McVeigh, Sam Reid, Ben McGlynn and Gary Rohan. There’s some compensation for Swans coach John Longmire: he regains the services of star forward Lance Franklin for the first time since last September, when Franklin withdrew from the finals series because of mental illness. The Magpies will look to capitalise on their undefeated NAB Challenge run with high profile recruit Adam Treloar added to their list of gun midfielders. The relocation of the match from the ANZ Stadium to the SCG favours the Swans who’ve not been beaten by the Pies at the SCG since Round 4, 2000.
Melbourne Demons v Greater Western Sydney Giants – Saturday 1:40pm
The Giants will travel interstate for their opening fixture at the MCG. Melbourne started 2016 in exceptional form, winning all three of their NAB Challenge games. The Demons have added last season’s AFL Rising Star winner, Jesse Hogan, to their line-up and he’s been in blistering form in the NAB matches. The Giants won two of their NAB Challenge encounters, including a takedown of hometown rivals Sydney Swans at Drummoyne Oval, but they’ll be missing . The Giants will be missing two dependable goal-scorers – Jeremy Cameron, through suspension, and Cameron McCarthy who is currently on indefinite leave.
Geelong Cats v Hawthorn Hawks – Monday 3:20pm
The reigning premiers kick off their season against the newly rejuvenated Geelong side. The highly anticipated debut of former Adelaide Crows star, Patrick Dangerfield, will be closely watched by football fans, as will fellow recruits Zac Smith and Lachie Henderson. Hawthorn will be without key forwards Jarryd Roughead, Bradley Hill and Liam Shiels whilst the Cats will be missing young gun Jackson Thurlow. Hawthorn, chasing their fourth premiership in a row, look to have a slight edge with an experienced and talented backline. – Anthony Johnston
Richmond v Carlton – March 24
Gold Coast v Essendon – March 25
North Melbourne v Adelaide – March 25
Western Bulldogs v Fremantle – March 26
Port Adelaide v St Kilda – March 26
West Coast v Brisbane – March 26
Photo of Sydney Swans’ co-captain Kieran Jack from Sydney’s Facebook page.